Ecosystem Grants

The Bush Foundation invests in great ideas and the people who power them. Ecosystem grants provide general operating support to help sustain organizations that create unique and significant value for our grantees, Fellows, Rebuilders and others.

Some might call these infrastructure organizations or intermediary organizations or just ‘can’t-do-without’ organizations. We call them ecosystem organizations because they help create an environment for big things to happen in the region.

What we fund

Ecosystem grants are offered across all Foundation programs and strategic initiatives. They provide general operating support to organizations that our grantees, Fellows, Rebuilders and others rely on to:

  • Provide critical data and analysis
  • Spread great ideas and build capacity
  • Advance public awareness and policy
  • Build and support leadership networks

Organizations may apply to receive as much as $200,000 over two years in general operating support. The grants are not to exceed 25 percent of an organization’s operating budget. We will talk with finalists to determine if there is any reason to give less than this amount – for example, if it is a funder’s collaborative with set funding amounts.  

Selection Criteria

Fit with a Foundation program or initiative.

Does the applicant organization advance the goal of a Foundation program or strategic initiative?

Does the applicant organization support other organizations and leaders in one or more of the following ways?

  • Providing critical data and analysis
  • Advancing public awareness and policy
  • Spreading great ideas and building capacity
  • Building and supporting networks of leaders

Impact on other organizations and leaders.

Does the applicant create unique and significant value for other organizations and leaders? For example, the scale and depth of impact could be in terms of the number of organizations and leaders impacted or in terms of filling specific, critical gaps in the field.

How the applicant organization operates.

Is the applicant organization stable and strong in terms of governance and finance?

Does the applicant organization operate in a way that aligns with the Bush Foundation’s operating values?

Across all our work, we are committed to addressing racial and economic disparities. As we consider potential Ecosystem grantees, we will consider whether applicant organizations have the skills and orientation to support leaders and organizations working toward that end.

Additional Considerations

We will also consider the diversity of our portfolio across:

  • Size of community served
  • Size of applicant organization
  • Demographics of communities served
  • Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography.

Ecosystem grants may be awarded to 501(c)(3) public charities or government entities. Coalitions or collaborative efforts are eligible to apply, but only one organization may receive the grant.

Organizations that do not have 501(c)(3) status may submit an application through a fiscal sponsor. The fiscal sponsor must submit the grant application. If the grant is approved, the fiscal sponsor becomes the grantee and receives the funds. Read our fiscal sponsorship overview (PDF) for more information.

Grants must be used for a charitable purpose that supports people and organizations in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota or the 23 Native nations that share the same geography.

Upcoming Opportunities

Ecosystem grants will be awarded bi-annually. The next awards will be in 2018.


For more information, or to talk with someone about the Ecosystem grant program, call 651-379-2218 or email